Sunday, 24 July 2011

Mashable: Latest 8 News Updates - including “Etsy’s Unofficial Music Scene Takes Off”

Mashable: Latest 8 News Updates - including “Etsy’s Unofficial Music Scene Takes Off”

Etsy’s Unofficial Music Scene Takes Off

Posted: 23 Jul 2011 03:02 PM PDT

As Lady Gaga stormed the web with promotions for Born This Way this summer — Farmville knockoff, Starbucks virtual scavenger hunt and Gilt Groupe deal included — her presence on one unlikely platform went largely unnoticed.

Etsy, the online marketplace for handmade goods, hosted a sale of posters inspired by the album. The pop star commissioned three Etsy artists to design the posters and then signed each one, giving the profits to VH1 Save the Music.

Though Lady Gaga is no stranger to trail blazing, her presence as a musician on the craft site fit a trend. Etsy has been gaining steam as a platform where artists promote themselves, sell their merchandise and connect with fans.

“We have been doing little music projects for about four years at Etsy,” explains Matt Stinchcomb, Etsy’s European director and one of its first employees. “Only now are we really beginning to think about how we can develop that further.”

Artists ranging from independent garage bands to international pop sensations have helped create Etsy’s unofficial music scene. Here’s how.

Original Merchandise

I’m From Barcelona member Anna Froderberg poses with her book, which is for sale on the band’s Etsy store

Is music a handmade good?

At Etsy, the official answer is yes. “People work hard to create the content [in MP3s] and it seems in the spirit of Etsy and handmade to allow the output of these types of endeavors to be delivered in digital format,” explains Etsy Marketplace Integrity Specialist Mark Shaw. “Also, a file physically does exist. It isn’t ephemeral, it is stored data, somewhere in the world.”

Hundreds of musicians sell or give away their MP3s or CDs on Etsy.

But more of them sell other merchandise, like handmade tote bags and t-shirts. Etsy takes a smaller cut of these sales (3.5%) than a record label would, and the site provides a sales platform to little-known bands who have neither a label nor a website with checkout capabilities.

Even when a band is more established, an Etsy store can have its advantages.

“It's something that's real, it's something that's physical, and it's something that's limited really,” Stinchcomb says. “There's a deeper connection that comes with it.”

The Avett Brothers, for instance, include original photos taken by their stage manager on their Etsy store. They’re donating profits to a small charity called Often Awesome.

“They are a caring group of individuals who have come together in support of a dear friend, Tim LaFollette,” the band writes about the charity. “Tim is battling ALS and has amazed and inspired so many of us. ”

The personal tone of The Avett Brothers store is present in the Etsy stores of other well-known bands as well. Twenty-nine-member I’m From Barcelona sells typical band merchandise on its website, but offers personal items like hand-drawn broaches and a picture book on its Etsy Store. Chaz Bundick, whose band is called Toro Y Moi, sold a limited edition tote bag that he designed himself and packaged with digital download cards of the new album.

Collaboration With Etsy Artists

In 2009, Etsy started inviting artists to perform in its space. At a series of events called “Rock n’ Shop,”It would stream these performances live (rock) in its Virtual Labs, and the artists would curate a selection of items from Etsy (n’ shop).

The events were one of the first examples of bands collaborating with Etsy artists to establish a presence on the site.

Three years later, bands that don’t craft are still using Etsy. Like Lady Gaga, indie rock band The Walkman teamed up with established Etsy sellers to launch a pop-up store on the site in anticipation of its latest album release.

Why Etsy?

Etsy’s music roots go deep. Stinchcomb used to be in a band with Etsy’s “office ecologist,” Josh Wise. Two more employees are still working together in a band called Neighbors, and several others are DJs. Etsy’s social media specialist, Dave Brown, ran an independent record label for more than 15 years. And when new employees start at the company, they are given a $50 budget for headphones.

Music plays a big role in the lives of many Etsy’s employees, and the theme seems bound to have leaked into the product that they’re creating.

At some point, for instance, Brown started a Twitter tradition of highlighting a band on “Music Mondays.” At another, the video team decided to profile the band Tuneyards (the video will be posted on the Etsy site in Mid-September). Asking to speak with people who have worked on music projects at Etsy gets you a meeting with representatives from merchandising, customer support, community, editorial, international and office ecology teams.

Now, Stinchcomb says, the company is just starting to consider what a more formal format for Etsy music might look like. He could personally, he says, imagine a licensing platform where bands can collaborate with Etsy artists to make fan art.

His guess is that Etsy’s costumers overlap with the music scene as much as its employees.

“We have 25 million people coming to Etsy every month, and they are looking for unique and special things,” he says. “And I feel like they’re the kind of people who also want to find unique bands.”

Thumbnail image courtesy Etsy user IHeartThis

More About: Etsy, I'm From Barcelona, Lady Gaga, music, The Avett Brothers, The Walkmen, Toro Y Moi

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15 Beautiful and Creative QR Codes [PICS]

Posted: 23 Jul 2011 02:09 PM PDT

In the same way that bar codes don’t have to be boring, quick response codes can also be creative. Thanks to a 30% tolerance in readability, you can have some real fun with clever designs. Besides looking good, this can also make them more successful.

“Designer QR codes are not only a way to make your 2D barcode stand out, but they also add a more human element to the otherwise cold and techie appearance,” says Patrick Donnelly, QR code designer and expert. “This could be the difference between someone scanning your code or not.”

Take a look through the image gallery for 15 brilliant designs created for a range of businesses from big names such as Disney, little names such as local restaurants and even conceptual ideas. Let us know in the comments if a clever design would make you more likely to scan a code.

1. Ayara Thai Cuisine

Designed by Paperlinks, a charming elephant drawing adds a dash of Asia to this LA restaurant's QR code.

2. True Blood

HBO's True Blood season 3 was the first TV series to get a designer QR code in an ad, thanks to a collaboration between Warbasse Design, .phd agency and SET Japan.

3. Magic Hat Brewing Company

This clever code from Patrick Donnelly is made up of bottle tops and links to the beer company's mobile optimized Facebook page.

4. Help Japan Now

Chances are you've already seen SET's "Help Japan" design. As well as extending the code to make an instantly recognizable red cross, the faux parts of the code contain related symbols for an arresting overall effect.

5. Louis Vuitton

Another SET creation, QR codes get playful with a dose of Takeshi Murakami-influenced design for Louis Vuitton's mobile website


6. Corkbin

Wine app Corkbin gets the Paperlinks treatment with a design that co-ordinates with, and even features, its distinctive logo.

7. Disney

Cliffano Subagio spotted these awesome Disney codes in Japan where QR is a well established marketing tool.

8. Discover LA Tourism Bureau

This Paperlinks code is both cool and calm with made-you-look palm trees that add a special design touch.

9. Pac-Man

An experimental design from Patrick Donnelly, we love the witty, retro appeal.

10. Greenfield Lodge

The dots from Greenfield Lodge's floral logo are replicated throughout the design to great effect.

11. M&Ms

Anther concept design from Patrick Donnelly, we like the idea of arranging real-life objects into a scannable code.

12. The Fillmore Silver Spring

Paperlinks added musical instruments into this concert venue's design, a neat way to tease consumers into reading the code.

13. Burtonwood & Holmes

Artists Tom Burtonwood and Holly Holmes have fun by extruding the classic code design with a code-within-a-code concept.

14. The Wine Sisterhood

As well as integrating elements from the group's logo, we like how Paperlinks made the design appear painted with wine.

15. TIME

These striking TIME covers from SET show just how creative you can get with QR codes.

BONUS: Farmville

Patrick Donnelly is such a QR code enthusiast, he spent months on Farmville "growing" a design!

More About: barcodes, design, gallery, List, Lists, MARKETING, QR Codes, trending

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Spotify Invites: Mashable Wants to Give You One [CONTEST]

Posted: 23 Jul 2011 01:23 PM PDT

Dying to try out music streaming service Spotify?

Today could be your lucky day. Mashable has more invites!

Though signing up for the paid version of the service lets you jump the queue, it will run you $4.99 per month for its unlimited, ad-free service, and $9.99 per month for the premium, mobile service. Others who have already joined received a free invite via launch partners such as Klout, ChevroletCoca-Cola, or in our first contest.

We want you to give you an invite for answering one simple question. So, tell us: What will be the first song you play on Spotify, and why? We’ll send invites to the readers with the most inspired responses.

How To Enter the Contest:

  • In the comments below, tell us what the first song you play on Spotify will be and why.
  • Be sure your email is included in your Mashable Follow account by visiting the settings tab on your profile and adding your email address to the email field if it’s blank. Please do not post your email in the comment thread below.
  • Submit your answer by Monday, July 25, at 12 p.m. ET.

We’re looking forward to learning more about the musical tastes of our community. Good luck!


More About: contest, invites, spotify

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3 Cool Tools for Finding Activities, Apps & Information

Posted: 23 Jul 2011 12:54 PM PDT

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Each weekend, Mashable handpicks a few startups that we think are building interesting, unique or niche products.

This time we’re featuring three applications and services that will help you find more, faster.

Startup’s omniscient event-finding powers could make its web and mobile application your best friend on the weekends. With Know About It, you can sit back and relax as this web app keeps tabs on the most relevant and important updates flooding your social media accounts. And Famigo is designed to be an application-finding friend to families with young children. Your Local Concierge

Quick Pitch: is a personalized event recommendation engine, helping you figure out what to do.

Genius Idea: Your Facebook interests and activities help determine what you could be doing.

Mashable’s Take: As the Loverboy song goes, everybody’s working for the weekend. But, for those times when your weekend (or weekday) calendar seems a little too empty, startup could come in handy.’s web and mobile applications serve as a local, personal concierge. Connect to your Facebook account and it will use your interests to recommend things for you do and see in your neighborhood.

“ indexes every single event in a city using natural language processing. Then we use a proprietary recommendation engine to personalize your suggested events based on your Facebook profile, specific interests, events attended, location check-in data, popularity of event, et cetera,” co-founder Chad Gallagher says.

The AOL Ventures-backed and New York-based startup just launched an Android application and will follow that release with an iPhone application in the week ahead. reminds us of Alfred, but with a focus on events. Its only real downfall is that it’s limited to six cities: New York, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago.

Know About It: Discover What You’re Missing on Social Media Sites

Quick Pitch: Know About It helps you discover the most engaging and relevant content lost in your social streams.

Genius Idea: Status update discovery.

Mashable’s Take: Even if you have an ever-present eye on all your social streams, chances are you’re still missing a tweet, Facebook post or news item that’s of interest.

Know About It — co-founded by former engineer Kevin Marshall and Chalq fantasy sports site founder Will Cole — surfaces content relevant to you that you may be otherwise missing in all of those real-time updates flying by. It connects to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google Reader, LinkedIn and a few other social sites as sources.

“We built Know About It as users who were frustrated with trying to keep up in real time. We knew there were huge amounts of content we just never saw, drowned out in crowded dashboards,” Cole says. “With Know About It, users can relax.”

Know About It is certainly not the first startup to attempt to help users get the most out of their social streams, but the just-launched startup has a fresh take and seems to do a solid job at surfacing content.

Famigo: Find Family-Friendly Apps

Quick Pitch: Famigo aims to change the way families play together by making their mobile technology as family-friendly as possible.

Genius Idea: An application search engine just for families.

Mashable’s Take: Former Nickelodeon executive Q Beck, neuroscientist Matt Sullivan and software developer Cody Powell applied their shared passion for gadgets and family fun to create Famigo, an application curation startup that attempts to help parents and kids find great games, educational resources and ebooks that are safe to enjoy.

Famigo’s website serves up reviews on Android applications in four categories: featured, highest rated, staff favorites and most popular. The just-released Family App Review Android application also curates, recommends and reviews family-appropriate Android applications.

Created during a three-day startup event in 2009, Famigo is now a member company of the Austin Technology Incubator.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, eyeidea

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bizspark,, Famigo, Know About It, social media, spark-of-genius, Startup Weekend Roundup

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Oslo Bombing Video Is a Facebook Scam, Infecting 1 User Per Second [WARNING]

Posted: 23 Jul 2011 11:52 AM PDT

In light of the bombing and shootings in Norway on Friday, it’s hard to believe that scammers would take advantage of such a tragic situation. But that’s just what’s happening on Facebook today, where a bogus post claims to link you to a video from an Oslo security camera showing the detonation of a car bomb near a Norwegian government building in which at least 10 people were killed.

The truth is, there was no security camera that captured such a video, at least as far as we know thus far. So if you see the following message on Facebook (pictured below): "[Video] OSLO Security Camera Captures Blast!", don’t click on it, delete it from your Facebook feed, and report it to Facebook security. Help Net Security says the scam is infecting one user per second:

According to security firm Sophos, clicking on the link redirects victims off-site to a fake video player that mimics Facebook. They’re asked to take a survey, and then presented with an IQ test. After that, they’re asked to enter a mobile phone number that will charge the victim $2 per trivia question, four times per week. Ouch.

Facebook scams seem to be proliferating these days, preying on the curiosity or desires of unsuspecting victims. For instance, there was a Facebook Video Calling scam during a time of intense interest in the new feature two weeks ago, a particularly virulent scheme that lured users into clicking a link that spammed all their Facebook friends.

SEE ALSO: How to Avoid and Prevent Facebook Spam

Patrik Runald, senior manager of security research at Websense told Help Net Security, "Criminals know how to take advantage of disasters and the hottest news items to get people to click on infected links. Tragedy is just one type of news that the bad guys use to exploit, compromise and infect your computer. Videos are an especially popular lure; we saw the same thing when Osama bin Laden died and when Casey Anthony was acquitted.

Other popular lures involve non-existent but widely desired Facebook features such as a Facebook “dislike button” scam, fake invites to Google+ and fake invitations to Google Music.

We’re always on the lookout for fakey Facebook behavior, so let us know if you see anything fishy. Is there no end to this needless duplicity? Is there any good news on this front? Although scams seem to be gaining popularity, spam decreased 82.22% over the past year.

More About: Facebook scam, Oslo bombing, scam, trending, warning

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Amy Winehouse’s Last Performance Caught on YouTube [VIDEO]

Posted: 23 Jul 2011 11:01 AM PDT

The death of Amy Winehouse was a shock to us all, and we mourn the loss of her free spirit and original talent. While her rise to stardom was well-documented on YouTube, so was her fall from grace.

This video shows her last public appearance, which was at the iTunes Festival, where she appeared on stage to help promote her protégé and goddaughter Dionne Bromfield’s new album.

Winehouse had canceled a European tour following a meltdown last month. She had withdrawn from all scheduled performances and her spokesperson said she would be given “as long as it takes” to recover. According to the Mail Online, police treated her death as “unexplained.”

More About: amy winehouse, death, last performance, last video, youtube

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Amy Winehouse Found Dead

Posted: 23 Jul 2011 10:03 AM PDT

Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment Saturday afternoon.

Just last month, Winehouse was forced to cancel her European tour, following a disastrous performance in Belgrade that went viral on YouTube. The troubled singer, has long struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, making many references to these struggles in her music.

TMZ confirmed earlier reports out of London, that Winehouse was found in her apartment and pronounced dead on the scene.

Best known for her 2006 breakthrough album, Back to Black, the singer was known for her deep voice and brazen lyrics. Winehouse was 27.

A Look Back at a Star for the Digital Era

Winehouse was extremely popular on YouTube. The songs from Back to Black continue to be popular cover targets for aspiring YouTube artists, thanks to its haunting lyrics and musicality. From iTunes to AOL Live, Winehouse made a number of appearances at digital focused events and distributed releases specifically for digital audiences.

At SXSW 2007, Winehouse performed an electrifying live acoustic set.

Sadly, Winehouse’s more troubled moments were captured and disseminated online as well. Earlier this summer, Winehouse’s disastrous performance in Belgrade, Serbia was caught by several audience members. The resulting fallout from the videos, which went viral, caused her to cancel her European tour and her record label issued takedown notices agains the most popular videos.

Amy Winehouse, "Back To Black"

Amy Winehouse, "Valerie"

Amy Winehouse, "You Know That I'm No Good"

Amy Winehouse, "Love Is A Losing Game"

Amy Winehouse, "Tears Dry On Their Own"

Amy Winehouse, "Some Unholy War"

More About: amy winehouse, celebrities, music, rip

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Buyer Beware: BBB Highlights Top 10 Online Scams [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 23 Jul 2011 08:59 AM PDT

Who would know better about how to deal with online scams and swindles than the Better Business Bureau (BBB)? When people are ripped off, the trusted organization is the first place many victims will go to file a complaint, and this infographic shows you the top 10 scams that ensnared unsuspecting victims in the U.S. and Canada last year, as reported to the BBB.

It’s better to ask questions first than file a complaint later, and the BBB tells us that in this infographic, an inquiry consists of “a customer seeking out our business information,” and that generally happens before a purchase. The BBB handles complaints after purchases as well, which are listed separately on the table below.

As you’re probably aware, most scams won’t work unless a prospective victim willingly participates. So keep in mind: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Top Online Scams [Infographic]

Top Online Scams [Infographic] compliments of Better Business Bureau

Graphic courtesy iStockphoto/Radiant Byte

More About: bbb, Better Business Bureau, buyer beware, infographic, phishing, ripoffs, scams

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14 Ways to Create a Memorable Business Card [PICS]

Posted: 23 Jul 2011 07:42 AM PDT

Memorable business cards are either all about minimalism or maximum creativity. If you’ve decided to avoid the American Psycho-esque, off-white, watermarked business card and flex your artistic muscles, here are 14 ideas that will help to inspire you.

From scented and edible, to 3D and digital, we’ve gathered ideas and online resources to help you create the next big thing in business cards. Make sure the next time you pass out your card, it doesn’t end up buried in a desk drawer, or worse, tossed in the trash.

Please share your own business card innovations and tips in the comments below.

1. Plantable

Great for farmer's market stands or environmentally conscious companies, these cards will compost in soil and then sprout flowers, herbs or veggies. Botanical Paperworks sells a variety of designs.

2. Interactive

Add a pinwheel to a business card like this Alice Donadoni design which spins coffee scents for the perfect bean/customer match.

3. Texturized

Communicate a soft-and-fuzzy feeling by embossing business cards made from cotton, silk, metal or even velvet. The cotton card above was designed by Taste of Ink.

4. Edible

Although these designs can get expensive (not to mention perishable), they're a great addition to company gift packages or a clever substitute for after-dinner restaurant mints. Just don't expect people to remember your email address for very long! These were designed by Ashutosh Karkhanis of Dizzy Design.

Chocoholic businesspeople should keep an eye out for a rumored chocolate printing machine that's supposed to let you customize your sweets. In the mean time, create your own by using molds and some icing.

5. Playful

Inspired by the Caddyshack gopher, Taste of Ink designed a business card sleeve that doubles as an office putting target.

6. 3D

Designer Igor Perkusic turned his business cards into 3D figures with rad hairdos. It's a perfect option for salon owners or stylists. Also check out Recircle's section for more 3D card cuties.

You can also combine texture and dimension by pasting business-appropriate materials to your card like the wool from this Wisconsin farm featured on Web Designer Depot.

7. Useful

Instead of opting for another business card that recipients will shove into their wallets, choose something useful, like a coaster on which to rest their java.

Etsy seller ReadyGo also offers customizable, mini-notebooks as a way to spice up your card.

8. Share-worthy

Give a card that people will want to hang up on a wall or share with their friends. A simple, clever design on the back of your card might just inspire people to show it to others.

For example, we know that you'll hold this moustache business card up to your face during happy hour. Just like we know you'll squeal over these doll-sized stationary business cards (both by Moo).

9. Perforated

Perforating your card, like this from fitness trainer Zohra Mouhetta, can add a clever and interactive touch. Taste of Ink also designed a card with a tear-away strip à la FedEx package.

Image courtesy of Funny Commercials World.

10. DIY

If you're on a budget, consider two vital business card tools: a rubber stamp and a paper cutter. Graphic designer Skye Jeffery's blogs about how she created customized rubber stamp cards for her business. Also see the materials Flickr user Mr. Keason used for stamping his business tags.

You can even get scrappy, like these torn cardboard business cards designed by Fischer + BUS.

Office Depot offers ways to order customized rubber stamps as well.

11. Lying Around the House

If you're in a hurry (or happen to have a surplus of bananas), consider stamping or branding items you already have lying around the house, as Silverback demonstrates above.

Alternatively, hand out something cute and useful by stamping your website on sugar packets like did.

12. Photos

Photos are an easy way to stand out with some lovely visuals. Take a tip from Bio Graffiti and transform your Instagram snapshots into cards or bookmarks that also promote your business.

13. QR Code

Consider adding a QR code to your business card and digitally directing recipients to a website containing your information. Be sure to check out Mashable's tips on how to use QR codes.

14. Stickers

Even if these aren't technically business cards, stickers are a fun way to distribute your logo. You can use stickers to turn just about anything you encounter into a calling card for your business.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Jeff McNeill

More About: business, business cards, design, MARKETING, QR Codes, trending

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